Happiness is An Alligator

Guess what the “F” stand for.

I had a rough year last year.  Many things imploded on me.  So at the insistence of my daughter, I went back into therapy, except I went for the wrong reasons and ended up with the wrong therapist, and that became another implosion.  I was not happy.

  However, half the job of becoming happy again is recognizing you have a problem and doing something about it, so I found another therapist, a great one this time. And she gave me a terrific coping strategy.

“You’re in a boat on a lake,” she said, “and you’re surrounded by alligators. There’s a big one on the shore, but your immediate problem is that there’s one trying to get into your boat.  That’s the book that’s due next week.  That’s your alligator.  Deal with that, and then we’ll figure out the rest.”

I went home and got an upsetting e-mail.  Ordinarily, that would have knocked me off balance for hours.  This time I looked at it and said, “Not my alligator” and went back to work on the book.  All week long, things happened that normally would have stressed me out, but they were not my alligator, so I just kept working which made me happy, and most of those other alligators went away on their own or went to sleep until I could get to them.  And I turned my book in on Friday, right on schedule.  

I have a new alligator now, and we’re getting to know each other, but the best thing about him is that he’s my only alligator, my Gator of the Week. I can handle him.  The rest of them in the lake and that bastard on shore, the therapist and I are talking about them, we know they’re there, but once I get home, they can go back to sleep for awhile.  Right now, I have this alligator in front of me, and I’m pretty sure I can take him.

My recommendation for happiness this week?  Find your alligator.  

97 thoughts on “Happiness is An Alligator

  1. That’s really smart. Hooray for finding a therapist that’s the right fit! It’s not easy to find someone we can trust with our emotional insides.

    Happiness this week is my volunteer teaching job starts up again on Monday. As of right now, I have a lot of returning students and a small class. I will have to adjust from being a Thursday teacher to being a Monday teacher (which means weekend lesson planning unless I’m reaaaallly organized) . My co-teacher is out of town for the next two weeks and I’m teaching on my own, but truthfully, I kind of enjoy that. We’ve become good friends, but I think we’ve both gotten lazy in our respective roles and I’m looking forward to stretching and trying new things for two weeks.

  2. I realise your alligators are metaphorical, Jenny, but I feel really sorry for that alligator in the snow with the woman on its back. It’s cruelty to animals. Well, the woman is probably dead and so is the photographer. The picture looks as if it dates to the thirties. Lets hope the alligator is still alive and living in comfort somewhere without being bothered by stupid people.

      1. And the alligator was probably history long before the model posed on its back. I can’t think of any alligator that would be will enough trained that someone could ride on its back without losing a major part of themselves.

        1. Actually, they do alligator shows in Florida like that. Gatorland, for example. A well fed alligator doesn’t really care much about people. And probably doesn’t mind being ridden any more than a horse does, as long as it gets food out of it. Alligators aren’t aggressive animals. Still a good metaphor, though! (Maybe better with crocodiles, though, which are aggressive.)

          1. I did not know that. Thank you.

            We have not been to Florida in over 40 years. We were planning on it before Bush II was elected and then decided it was not some place we wanted to spend our money. Mostly we go to places where we can hear good opera now.

  3. Huh. I think that this is what my very good therapist was getting at when she told me to focus on one thing. Had I had such an eloquent example, I would have been able to direct my focus.

    Thank you for sharing. It’s going to be a big help .

    I’m still in KonMarie mode and I think I’m going to be selling a number of my comics, because they simply don’t bring me joy. Happiness to me this week is truly being more organized.

    1. I sold some of my comic books to “My Comics Shop” which I think is in Texas. They offered me a much better price than my local shop could. Depending on what you have, you may find their database useful.

      Also consider donating. The folks at the USO place at my local airport was excited to get a bunch of my comic books. I dropped off the more common titles that had no resale value (Batman et al)

  4. Awesome analogy. My happiness this morning is that my nephew sent me an email telling me that he liked my most recent book and its “subtle humor”. There are reasons, complicated, why that means so much to me, but he’s a kid with a lot of alligators and it makes me really happy to know that I made him laugh.

  5. Yep I can see it. Last week I decided it is time to find a therapist. And you turned in a book. So happy for you. And me as eventually I can read it. Your writing is what introduced me to you, Jenny, but now you are so dear to me whether you are writing or not.

  6. I’ve just dismantled my Christmas tree, which has magically allowed me to be on holiday for the past two and a half weeks. My focus now is navigating my house purchase and move in a way that’s as easy and even enjoyable as possible. Definitely ignoring all other alligators.

  7. I’m glad you got got a good therapist. It’s hard to find the right one. I like that your therapist actually acknowledges that your problems are real and stressful. I’ve had way too many therapists suggest that dismissing the problems and writing a gratitude journal is just the ticket. For many people, maybe. Not me. I need to find solutions to actual troubles. But I really like the notion that they don’t all have to be considered at once. Prioritizing makes solid sense.

    1. An old co-worker of mine once said she wanted to find a therapist “and a real one, not someone who would tell me to visualize smiling, happy bunnies”.

      It’s become a catch phrase ever since, but since we are NOT therapists, it works as humor.

  8. There used to be a self help book – I think that it was called something called “Not My Monkey” – which basically addressed people dumping their problems on you. It was a lot of help for me, because I was the “one” in our office who could handle most of what went on, even though technically (I always hate this phrase) not my job. It helped me learn to say no.

    Glad you found a therapist you can work with. Just because they have credentials doesn’t mean their approach will work. Sounds like you found a good one.

    1. Oh yes, someone at work says “Not my circus, not my monkeys”. An excellent phrase when tempted to wade in on someone else’s problem.

  9. Ooh, I like this.

    My happiness and my anxiety are wrapped up in the same thing (person) this week but also I know I’m using them as a distraction from all the alligators. What would that be called??

  10. My alligator is that I have been summoned for jury duty and I have to go to the next city (it’s not large and about a 20 minute drive away) but it’s in an unfamiliar area for me. So to face that alligator I am going for a trial run today to make sure I know where it is and how long it will take me to get there. Plus, I have to figure out parking as well. After that, I hope the jury duty isn’t another alligator.

    1. My sister-in-law just had to do this – in the end, I don’t think she actually had to serve for a trial. They kept forming juries and then dismissing them because a vital witness wasn’t available, and so on. I should take lots of things to do while you’re waiting!

    2. What Jane said. I have had jury duty 5 times in my life and have been on a jury 5 times. The first two times I had to serve for a week That was 3 of the trials, each lasting a day. Two of them were settled before we were sequestered. So 7 days in the jury waiting room and 3 days in the court room. The third time I served for 3 days and had one 1/2 day trial then on the last day was selected for a two week trial. There was a TV turned on in the main waiting room. And a lot of reading and knitting and working on laptops going on. Bring a lunch. Our courthouse did not have a public cafeteria. There was a microwave in the jury room kitchen, also a urn of indifferent coffee.

      I learned a lot about weird subjects

    3. That’s a good idea and I have done that as well with driving and the bus, back before I drove.

      One time I got put on notice for FEDERAL jury duty–I didn’t even know that was a thing–so I was worried about having to commute to Sacramento. I never actually went in but they kept forcing me to call and ask every week for a month and a half (and it was supposed to be a month and I was going on vacation at the end of the second month). Eeek.

    4. Google maps street view. If you go to the area on google maps, then click on the little yellow guy down on the lower right, it illuminates in blue every street that can be viewed in photo form. Then by dragging yellow guy onto your route, you can drive the route virtually as far as the blue lines allow you to go. I’ve found that doing a virtual drive lets me note down the landmarks I can use when I drive that route physically, and it lets me find the roads familiar even if I’ve never been on them before.

      I’d also use google to check out jury parking for the city you’re going to. There’s sure to be some municipal site that tells you where jurors are allowed or directed to park. If the address of that parking lot or building isn’t familiar, the yellow guy can again help out.

      And I totally agree with the suggestion to bring your own quiet amusements. Jury rooms involve an awful lot of waiting around.

      1. Yes, I second Google maps street view. I use it whenever I’m going somewhere unfamiliar, and it makes a huge difference to know what your destination looks like. And your route!

    5. Take a book, or plenty of other reading material, because the odds are that you’ll either be sitting around most of the day, or dismissed quickly. Or needlework, if the courthouse will allow you to have knitting needles or other dangerous implements in the building.

      I had a summons for December 19, but had a mental bet that probably no case would actually go to trial just before Christmas, and none did that day.

  11. Excellent. Very smart. Yup, what needs to be done first. Funny how one knows that’s it but the snapping jaws of waiting alligators can distract. I’ve found a certain type of music playing is calming and I can focus without anxiety of the waiting deadlines.

  12. This is timely advice. I have spent a fair amount of energy over my holidays worrying about the fact that DS hasn’t done any work on a big project due later this month. Upon reading Jenny’s post, I realized that his project is not even remotely my alligator. I went for an alligator-free x-country ski with friends this am.

    1. A handy skill, recognising other people’s alligators. I tend to get them confused with mine far too easily. But will work on the recognition skills.

  13. I don’t know if your therapist’s ideas would work for me, and yet… no problem identifying my alligator this week. Its name is Dell, and it’s a multi-headed reptile. The first head is my Inspiron, which I shipped back to them (on their dime) is at the FedEx office, not being delivered because I wasn’t on the porch last time they tried. Hopefully, it is fixed. The second head is Dell Financial Services (DFS), with whom I set up an auto pay that isn’t auto paying and they want to charge me interest and late fees. I will straighten it all out on Monday.

    I want my Dell. I am totally unimpressed with this Chromebook’s limitations. The Chromebook may not be an alligator, but it is definitely one of my monkeys. RanchGirl mentioned a book, “Not My Monkey.” Never heard of it. But a character in that Harmon series, Wearing the Cape, said that “Not my circus, not my monkey” was a Polish Proverb. So the Chromebook is hanging from a tree branch and throwing fruit and nuts at me and my alligator.

    I am not a master of metaphor, obviously.

  14. My alligator for this week is returning Kai to the rescue people. Last week I attempted to take him to obedience class, which was my last hope for getting a handle on his dislike (understatement) of other dogs and humans being in his universe. One second he was happily taking a calming treat from my hand and the next he lunged at the instructor’s face. She said she felt a tooth graze her cheek and promptly expelled him.

    I spoke with the dog trainer my daughter used for her dog’s leash reactivity. Lori works with the animal behavior modification program at Ohio State. After listening to me recount the story of the past six weeks, she advised returning him. She said even if I could afford a private trainer (and I wasn’t planning on that kind of expense when I got him), his behavior suggests that he’s never going to be safe. They can teach him to tamp down his fear/anger, but they can’t eradicate it, which means under stress (like having the meter reader enter his territory on a day when he’s already amped up about something), it could come back.

    And the rescue people are telling me that if I return him he’ll probably have to be euthanized, which makes me feel like I’m being turned inside out because when he’s just home with my husband and me he’s totally adorable.

    Actually, when he’s lunging at someone, he looks a lot like an alligator…

    1. Jeanne, I am so sorry.

      One of our friends had a Swiss Mountain Dog with dominance issues and my friend’s mantra was “She hasn’t bitten anyone ….. yet” And she missed her dog when the dog died but she spent 8 years either keeping the dog in a muzzle if they went out or keeping it crated if anyone came by the house. It never was left in the yard unmuzzled or by itself. My friend said that she was not sure that she had done the dog any favors but she loved the dog too much to let it go. And even muzzled, she did not want it around children or other dogs.

    2. I hate this for you. At some point, though, you have to look at the liability. It’s still awful.

    3. My teacher was in the same position.

      Her father had a german shepherd that adored him, but hated everyone else in the universe. He died and no one wanted the dog, she didn’t want to put him down and offered him to the police. Lucky for her, they thought he had potential and took him off her hands.

    4. That’s so hard. The woman who runs the local rescue (where I got one of my new cats, Harry Dresden) posted recently about her dog, which had similar issues. He finally bit someone in the face (the woman was okay) and she had to have him put down. It broke her heart. And broke mine to read about it. You have to do what is best for you, and sometimes that means saying, “I can’t do this.” Hugs. That’s one hell of an alligator.

    5. Oh, I’m so sorry, Jeanne. With grandkids around, you just can’t have an unstable dog. I was bit in the face when I was five, and it had a lot of unhappy consequences for the dog. I had a fear of dogs for a long time, but it wasn’t really crippling or anything. But 0/10, do not recommend. Poor doggie. But better that than poor bite-victim. I know it hurts, but I think you are doing the right thing.

    6. Oh my gosh, that is so hard, but so necessary. I love dogs, I do, but having a dog that volatile sounds like pure stress. Please remember that whatever happens, you gave that pup a loving happy home in the end, even if that ends is sooner than anyone expected.

      1. Thanks, everyone.

        At first I was mad at the rescue people, because I felt like they weren’t as transparent about his issues as they could have been. And they’re dragging their feet about taking him back, saying he’ll have to be evaluated and then a decision will have to be made by the bite committee on whether he can be re-homed again.

        Apparently, his original owners didn’t have much free time, so they crated him 14 hours a day. Crating an active dog like an Aussie pup is basically torturing him. Just the thought of it makes me sick to my stomach. I’m surprised he’s not even crazier than he is.

  15. Hi, I don’t comment much. Mostly a lurker.

    Happiness for me is: delivering today a painting for my first ever juried show. I got more serious despite major 2018 road bumps during Lee’s February daily instagram art challenge. Then stopped, started, stopped. Repeat rinse. Complete halt. Forced myself to finish a piece. On a fluke I decided what the heck and submitted something for the Winter Carnival. My piece got in. Scramble ensued because it’s X-mas eve and I have to find a framer in the middle of nowhere then get it back to the cities by Jan 6th.

    Figured either this was the start of something or it was one and out. So go big or go home. Within reason of course. No unlimited budget. I splurged on a beautiful frame and museum glass. And the framer I found was truly amazing, wonderful and nurturing. I was kind of blase about the whole thing and she was so so excited for me and about my piece. She’s an artist in her own right and she made my piece shine.

    So thanks to the Cherry community, Jenny for doing the post on Lee’s challenge and Lee was hosting the 2018 February challenge.

    1. That’s brilliant! And it’s always worth setting your work off with a really good frame – and then sharing it.

    2. I had to reset the instagram account because I haven’t used it at all since Lee’s challenge.

      Just threw some photos of the painting and details if anyone would like to see. It’s a touch “blue” because I don’t have the white balance set properly.

      Thanks again everyone for keeping me inspired and kicking me in the rear to put myself out there.


      1. We’re still using the #workingwednesdaypix hashtag, so if you add that to future posts, everyone here who’s on Instagram will see them.

  16. I’m in the middle of my own personal alligator as we speak. This morning I woke up to a bit of a twinge in my back, by noontime it had evolved to a glorious spasm. So now I’m resting against a toasty heating pad. From past experience it will take a couple of days to work itself out. Don’t know how I got it, could only be delayed reaction from undecorating and storing Christmas decorations. Ah, jury duty. I’ve been summoned many a time but in my state so when reaching seventy you have choice whether you want to go or not. I chose not.

    1. I never minded jury duty but I just turned 70. The first good thing I thought of was that I never had to do jury again.

  17. Thanks for sharing the strategy – and glad you’re clicking with this therapist.

    Yesterday I took down our outdoor Christmas tree (an artificial tree I spray-painted silver last year – bad idea; color comes off at every touch – which is why it’s an outdoor tree). ANYhow, I took off the first couple tiers and there, nestled in the bottom tier, was a whole peanut in the shell.

  18. My alligator this week was my Westjet cold, and I allowed myself to surrender to it and get better, which thankfully has pretty much happened. I feel like I can actually start the new year now!

  19. My alligator is getting back into a writing routine after a couple of months of holidays and distractions, so now my monkey brain won’t settle down to work. I had other plans for this month, but I realized that I needed to focus on that writing routine first and not challenge too many alligators at once.

    Last week, someone tried to get me to tackle too many alligators, and it really annoyed me. I have a rare, chronic, whole-body metabolic disorder, so I see a medical specialist (and do a lot of self-education) for that, and I also see a local doctor for random getting-older medical issues. I actually switched doctors to this one because the last one kept trying to get involved in the treatment issues for the metabolic disorder which she was not qualified to treat (she’d never even heard of it before she met me), and all I needed her to do was monitor by blood pressure and cholesterol. I like this new doctor, and it wasn’t her fault that I had too many alligators, but she’s in a practice that’s doing what’s probably a good idea in general, but just irritated me — apparently they’ve decided to start the new year with a check of everyone’s mental health. And I just wasn’t into it. It’s not why I go there, and I didn’t want to dwell on all the gradations of how often I’m sad or how often I feel overwhelmed, when all I want is for the doctor to make sure I don’t stroke out due to blood pressure and cholesterol problems. (I really do like her, and she’s been great at both expanding her work to include some aspects of my rare condition on request and at the same time not trying to mess with aspects of it that I don’t ask her to deal with.)

    Anyway. I think I need to talk to their medical director about alligators and chronic illness.

    I like the alligator metaphor for chronic illness much better than the spoons metaphor (which, for anyone who isn’t familiar, boils down to something like having a set number of spoons to use in a given day due to the chronic illness, and using them up with various challenges, and needing to apportion them wisely).

    1. I can understand that you are not very comfortable with your doctor’s approach but it does make sense to me. So many health conditions are linked to the emotional status of the patient. Maybe it’s just a question of how they deal with this issue and how they communicate it to their patients.

      1. I was probably a bit cranky about it for unrelated reasons. I agree that it’s worth having a vehicle for discussing mental health, for making time for it without any pressure, but this just didn’t seem to be the way to do it. I’m not sure what the answer is though. A lot of problems with health care seem to come back to time (along with the more obvious one of money). Clinicians just don’t have the time to really know their patients or ask all the necessary questions or treat a multi-system disorder in a single appointment, and patients know about those time constraints and feel pressured not to take all the time they need and ask all the questions they have. I’ve gotten a bit spoiled by being in a clinical trial, where the principal investigator is less confined to 10 or 15 minute appointments, and has a vested interest in asking All The Questions, because in the research setting, they want to make sure they don’t miss anything, so they encourage participants to chatter at length. (Or at least mine does.)

  20. Thanks for all the suggestions and comments about my upcoming jury duty. I did the trial run which turned out to be a good idea. I managed to take a wrong turn, got turned around and found my way back. I now know that when the garman told me to turn right, it meant the upcoming right, not the one immediately ahead of me! I also found the parking garage they recommended and am now as ready as I can be. My kindle is charged and I picked up extra tissues and cough drops (for the dry tickle in my throat that always happens at the most inconvenient times).

    1. You might take a pair of earbuds to plug into an audio source (mp3 player, phone, etc.) as a good way of blocking out noise if the waiting area is large and you’d like a little quiet.

      And something you’ve probably already thought about – treat going to court like going to the airport and allow extra time for clearing security for entering the courthouse. At least that’s the case here in Broward County in Florida. It might be different in your courthouse, but early arrival might give you a better choice of seating, too.

      Good luck doing your civic duty.

  21. Excellent advice and perspective. My alligator this week is figuring out how I can see which is probably just better reading glasses and a new monitor. Lots on the shore and outside the boat, but I think I can take ’em too.

  22. My alligator today is merely a lizard. I have to take down the decorations and put them away. Yesterday I worked removing the leaded paint from the trim on the inside of the closet I am converting to a mini-studio. Four hours and I still have more to do but it is not my alligator for today; it is sleeping on the shore waiting for a different day.

  23. Hello from the Aussie bush, and congratulations on turning in the book. My alligator is the publisher email came in with the release date for The Legend of Crying Girl Creek, Feb 13, 2019, along with a request to do a final, final review within five days. This is my downtime/off the grid, and did not bring a laptop and Mum does not have internet. I can get spotty connections for iPhone but no way can my old eyes read on it anyway. So, not my alligator. I told them and they said not a problem. I signed off on galley before leaving, if there are any mistakes there will be mistakes. Alligators are cool.

  24. I’m going to tell my son about this alligator metaphor. He worries a lot and we’re working with a (really great) therapist on his budding anxiety.

    My alligator this week is my Golden Heart entry. I’ve already pushed all the other alligators out of my boat. Hooray!

  25. Oh Damn. So is my alligator focusing on my writing so I get paid in a couple of weeks, deciding if I should go back to work full time and enjoy having money, going back part-time as a sub so I can write and work at the same time, or should I rent a room out?

    Perhaps it is all the Christmas decorations that the lovely children left me to put away.

    The problem is that I could happily just while away my days until the tree catches fire, or the electricity company turns off my power or whatever other disaster decides to drop in. I am very happy not addressing my alligators and I’m not even sure which one is climbing in the boat. I can’t seem to work myself up to worry about anything.

    So maybe the alligator is getting in the daily word count and everything else can take care of itself.

    I could turn to crime but I don’t think I’d be very good at it. If I went to rob a bank and the teller started to cry, I’d have to go off and make her a cup of tea and we’d be chatting in the staff room when the state police came to take me away. Which would be about two minutes because the closest bank to me is half a mile from the state police barracks. That would be one short apology.

    1. I think you should steer into the curve.

      Write that story of how you robbed the local bank, made a friend for life with a teller (whose problems you solve ) who in turn covers for you when the police arrive and you both realise something is wrong at the bank as you don’t show up on any of the surveillance footage and the police took much too long to arrive…

  26. My alligator this week is pain (huge ongoing fibromyalgia flare plus migraines) and lack of sleep because pain and hormones and who knows what else. Not a new alligator, but one that is being particularly annoying. Ah, well.

    My happy this week is being unexpectedly included in a book signing event in Albany (about an hour and a half from me) in March at a cool Indy book store. The other authors at the event are the lovely Anne Bishop (who I met at my local sf/fantasy con last November when she was GoH), Kristen Britain, and Julie Czerneda. I feel a bit like I’m fighting about my weight class, but it still makes me absurdly happy to be in such good company, especially since the owner of the shop specifically asked me to bring her copies of the self-published 3rd Rider book for her to sell. (I’ve done a couple of signings there before and she is a fan, bless her.)

  27. My blessing (or more likely, my curse) is that I have a blind spot for alligators. I sure don’t see any right now, AND I’M NOT GOING TO LOOK. At least not this week.

    I do, however, have about five dozen yipping chihuahuas, and the strategy works fine for those, and I’m grateful to have it. Today, I am sending the Christmas checks in the mail to get deposited. Tomorrow, I’m mailing my daughter some fancy cookies, and then deciding what the next chihuahua is going to be. One chihuahua at a time!

    (What is happening to my chihuahuas? I am envisioning that I am giving them a little treat and sending them back to their owners. Win/win/win.)

    1. Yes! I’m facing 4 weeks of school holidays to go, and a shit-tonne of work to do and I’m like ‘everything’s FINE’ and my partner tells me I’m just throwing a blanket over it.

      Although now I’m thinking, alligator’s teeth can rip that blanket to shreds. Damn (not the word I’m actually thinking).

  28. Congratulations on finding a good therapist. I love the “gator of the week” concept. Sometimes “bird by bird” seems a little….. neverending. Wrestling with the alligator sounds more accurate to some of the toothier problems, and feels more, I don’t know, adventurous than sorting out the birds!

  29. I would also like to add that the right therapist is a pearl beyond price. One of those saved my life, many years ago. (And also improved the quality of it.)

    1. The right therapist is everything. I hated the very idea of therapy and my mother reported me to my sons psychiatrist who set me up with his wife. It was a very hard time in all of our lives and Bonne really saved my sanity.
      I love the alligator analogy and I sent it to my sister and both my sons.
      My current right now alligator was finishing pages for my critique group tomorrow and now finishing my critiques of their pages. Then I get to sign a contract for a children’s book, pay my bills, and then, let an agent know that the book she’s interested in already got a contract. I wonder if she’d be interested in my current book? Must ask.
      But that is not my current alligator and I’m only doing one alligator at a time. My next alligator after the above is going to be starting a tax course so I can volunteer to do peoples taxes for free. That’s going to lead to a whole new host of alligators. Onward! And thank you for your posts
      Jenny, apropos of your heart, I am praying for you. I had open heart surgery and a triple bypass nine years ago. It wasn’t fun but right now it’s just a memory. So it’s cancer. And a really badly broken arm.
      I am praying for you that what is wrong for you will soon be a memory.

      1. Remember if you’re going to other people’s taxes for free, they better be building your ikea furniture or something equally complicated in return. Nothing more headachy then someone handing you a box of unfiled, undated receipts and miscellanous letters and expecting you to work miracles

  30. I love that. For me, though, I have to keep an eye on the ones on the banks, or before I know it they’re climbing in. To wit: I was so proud that I actually got dates scheduled for both my December babies’ birthday parties. Now they’re one and two weeks away and no invites have gone out. Oy.
    Christmas was lovely, though.

    1. I feel you on that. I was so proud that I’d scheduled my son’s birthday party. Then had to move it. Then he got sick 10 minutes before we were supposed to leave for the venue. We told the venue to go ahead and the kids had a great time, minus the treats and treat bags.

      I like the alligator analogy. Today my alligators are peacefully cruising around about 5-10 feet from the boat and the shoreline seems too distance to worry about. So I’m going to enjoy this peace and respite.

  31. My alligator of the day (jury duty) fizzled away. It was a civil case and they were looking for 8 jurors, 6 regular and 2 alternates. After 3 hours, 4 had been chosen and they broke for lunch. We had been back for about half an hour with a lot of attorney and court personnel to and fro-ing when the judge walked in and we all rose. He then announced that the attorneys had worked out a compromise and therefor we, the jurors and prospective jurors, would no longer be needed. So that’s that! It was interesting to watch as the attorneys questioned the prospective jurors. I guessed fairly accurately who would be dismissed, based on the bare details of the case and what they were asking people.

    1. Your jury service is obviously different. In Britain, you serve for (I think) two weeks, during which you may have to serve on a number of juries, or none at all. You may also end up on a trial that lasts for a lot longer than the initial two weeks, of course; although my sister-in-law was allowed to bow out from a trial starting at the end of her jury service, by saying she couldn’t afford to take more time off work.

      1. It depends on which type of jury duty you are called for. There is Federal, State or County, and Grand Jury. Grand jury lasts about 2 months and you serve a couple of days a week. One of my neighbors is serving on that type right now. She said it was very interesting and that from now on, she was locking all doors,house and vehicle, that she hasn’t realized just how much crime there was around! That is where evidence is presented and the jurors decide if it’s sufficient to warrant a trial. I am not sure about the Federal as I have not been summoned for it. The other type is either civil or criminal and the trials can be as short as a day or much longer. I was called for a civil trial and the judge told us up front we would not serve more than 5 days. Once you have served, you can’t serve for 10 years. It’s different for the Fed. You can be called for that even if you have served on a regular trial. If you are summoned and not chosen for that trial, you can be summoned again in a few years.

        1. It varies. When I was first called it was for two weeks for county and if you were chosen it could run even longer depending on the trial. I have never been called for federal or a grand jury so I don’t know. This was such a long period that mostly they got retirees, or housewives or househusbands. Some businesses would give employees time off. But my husband could never serve if it was longer than a few days because he did research and frequently had to give presentations that he had committed to do months prior. The same with lawyers and doctors. Then they changed it to 3 days and the jury pool became more varied. Then it became one day but still had to stay for the period of the trial. Then the jury pool became really varied. I sat on a trial with a lawyer in the jury and nurses and other professionals and students. It really was a more interesting experience.

    2. Glad it worked out!

      I hope an officer of the court told you that your presence was still valuable – that because there were jurors ready to serve, making a trial was possible, the attorneys had incentive to work out a deal.

    1. My brother-in-law was on a grand jury in NYC for 2 months and came home paranoid every night. Hearing about all those different crimes all day convinced him that he and his family were never safe. Fortunately for the whole family, the feeling wore off, or at least lessened, after a while.

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